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Film / Pixote

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Pixote is a 1980 film from Brazil directed by Hector Babenco.

It is a relentlessly grim tale of the lives of homeless Brazilian youth. Pixote is a boy of 13 or so, who is scooped up in a police roundup and imprisoned in a juvenile detention facility. It is a hellhole, a place of filth and depravity where rape is rampant and where the guards and warden care only about exploiting the children, when they aren't murdering them. Pixote takes to huffing paint to escape his misery.

One of the youths is beaten to death by the guards. After another boy is framed for that murder, and himself beaten to death by the guards, Pixote and three of his friends—Chico, trans female Lilica, and Lilica's lover Dito—escape. But life on the outside really isn't that much better, as Pixote and his young friends are abused and exploited by the scummier elements of the Brazilian criminal underworld.


Child actor Fernando Ramos da Silva was plucked from poverty in the slums of São Paulo to play Pixote, a character much like himself. His acting career petered out soon after Pixote, he returned to the slums, and in 1987 he was shot and killed by police.


  • Blood from the Mouth: Garatao, brutally beaten by the guards, coughs up blood before he dies in Lilica's arms.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Pixote's childlike nature, even while he's becoming a criminal and after he's already committed a murder, is demonstrated when he blows a raspberry at a john he's holding at gunpoint.
  • Crapsack World: The underworld of Brazil, filled with desperate homeless children, predatory drug dealers, and crusty prostitutes.
  • Death by Falling Over: Chico appears to whack his head and die in the confrontation with the stripper. He falls over against the wall and never gets up.
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  • Delinquents: They are made that way by the brutal, savage environment they live in, but the young people in the film are indeed teen criminals. In fact they are highly useful criminals, in that they're juveniles and they get their slates wiped clean when they turn 18.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Garatao dies in Lilica's arms after the guards dump him back in the barracks room.
  • Downer Ending: Lilica leaves. Pixote accidentally kills Dito while killing the john. Sueli offers him the comfort of her breast... but then she seems to realize who she is and what she's done, and she casts traumatized Pixote aside and throws him out of the apartment. The last shot is Pixote all alone, wandering around the railroad tracks.
  • Dwindling Party: In the last half-hour Pixote's companions drop off one by one. Chico dies in a freak accident. Lilica, who has seen Sueli replace her in Dito's affections, leaves forever. Finally Pixote accidentally kills Dito, and Sueli throws him out of the apartment.
  • Fan Disservice: All the nudity from Sueli, the haggard, worn-out middle-aged hooker, plying her trade in her dirty flophouse apartment.
  • For the Evulz: Sometimes it's not clear why the guards at the reformatory do what they do. In one scene they pack a bunch of kids into a van, let two of them out someplace late at night, and shoot them to death, for seemingly no reason.
  • Frame-Up: After beating Fumaça to death for no obvious reason, the guards frame Garatao for the murder. Then they beat him to death, and when they seem to be gearing up to pin it on Lilica, the four youths break out of jail.
  • Gorn: Sueli is the sort of person who will abort her own fetus (possibly understandable, in 1980 Catholic Brazil), and then leave the aborted fetus lying in a bathroom trash can, which Pixote sees.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Would you like to watch a close-up of feces swirling down the drain of a filthy, grime-ridden toilet?
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: It's actually unclear what if any criminal activity Pixote was part of before being chucked in the nightmarish Juvenile Hell, but in the reformatory he's introduced to huffing paint, and he plays in a literal bank robbery game where the kids pretend to rob banks, including using pieces of wood for guns. After he escapes he slides easily into drug-dealing.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: As she lures the American john into her apartment, Sueli is muttering insults in Portuguese, like "Sit there, fucking gringo, we'll finish you off soon."
  • Honey Pot: A gross, low-rent version of the "badger game" in which Sueli the hooker lures johns, so that her teenaged pimps Dito, Pixote, and Lilica can hold the men at gunpoint and rob them.
  • Impairment Shot: The picture goes blurry right before Pixote passes out from huffing paint.
  • Intro Dump: The names of the main characters, and even a little info about which have parents, are all given to the audience at the beginning when a guard at the reformatory takes a roll call of new arrivals.
  • Juvenile Hell: The juvenile reformatory, where prison rape is rampant, the toilet facilities are covered in filth, and the guards exploit, abuse, and occasionally murder the inmates.
  • Never Learned to Read: Pixote can't read. The reformatory sometimes feints towards actual reform, which is why Pixote gets put in a class where a well-meaning teacher tries to help him learn.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Pixote wandering away alone down the railroad tracks, after losing everyone.
  • Prison Rape: Pixote learns what sort of place he's in right off the bat when a gang of reformatory kids rapes another boy in the barracks.
  • Situational Sexuality: Apparently the case with Dito. Dito and Lilica are lovers but, as Pixote says, "Lilica likes dick. Dito doesn't." After they fall in with Sueli, Sueli has little problem seducing Dito away from Lilica despite being well over twice his age. After having to sit there while Dito and Sueli have sex, Lilica leaves.
  • Street Urchin: A grim tale of homeless children wandering the streets, committing crimes.
  • Time Passes Montage: A montage soon after the kids break out of the reformatory shows them on the streets of Sao Paulo, stealing purses and wallets.
  • Transgender: Lilica is a trans female. Since she's dirt poor in 1980 Brazil, she has to settle for wearing a wig and dressing in women's clothing. As the new inmates are admitted to the reformatory, the head guard tells Lilica definitively that she will be treated as a male inside.
  • Two-Act Structure: The first half is the story of the boys inside the reformatory. At almost exactly the halfway point they escape, and the second half shows their life of crime and degradation on the streets.

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